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Arts Council festival to feature more then 60 Christmas trees

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer
More than 60 Christmas trees will be on display next month during the Arts Council of Lincoln County’s first annual Festival of Trees.
A preview of the three-week long festival, which is officially set to kick-off on Saturday, is scheduled for this Friday at the former site of Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln on Gamble Drive in Lincolnton.
Arts Council Executive Director Shelly Johnston noted that the city recently gave the Council permission to use the old hospital site for any art events they have planned during the next three to five years.
The Festival of Trees, set to run Fridays through Sundays Dec. 3 through 23, is a community event featuring a flashy and colorful exhibit of 65 trees. Each tree has been sponsored by a different local business, non-profit or missions organization, and each has decorated their holiday staple according to a group theme.
Groups sponsoring trees at this year’s event include the Chamber of Commerce, Red Cross, Coalition Against Child Abuse, the Lincoln Cultural Center, Kings Office Supply, the Lincoln County Democratic party and many more. In addition, a tree is being decorated in honor of Lincolnton High School’s successful football season.
Each tree will also have a jar located at its base where people can submit votes. The tree with the most number of votes at the end of the December display will win a “People’s Choice Award,” Johnston said.
In addition to a tree exhibit, the festival is set to offer an array of family-friendly activities include Kids’ Pajama Night each Friday. Children are encouraged to wear their pajamas in order to receive free admission and the opportunity to visit with a “celebrity Santa.”
Among this year’s list of celebrity Santas are Sheriff Carpenter, Mayor Gilleland,  Chamber President Ken Kindley and City Councilman Les Cloninger.
Rick Ramseur, president of the Lincoln County Concert Association, will also be on-hand to perform a magic show during the Kids’ Night on Dec.10.
Festival-goers can participate in wine tasting as well as snack on yummy holiday treats at the Cookie Shoppe and Christmas Coffee House, with coffee provided by Fausto in Lincolnton.
Local musical talent, including various church choirs throughout the area, is set to provide entertainment each weekend at both the facility’s front entrance and coffee shop area.
Local art work from artists associated with UMAR Lincolnton are being auctioned off at the festival’s silent auction, with all proceeds going back to the non-profit organization. UMAR specializes in working with developmentally-delayed adults.
“We wanted to welcome them as part of our art community,” Johnston said of Lincolnton’s newest art center.
All other proceeds from the event will be donated directly to the Arts Council.
Johnston came up with ideas for the festival just two months ago and is proud to offer the community such a plethora of holiday sights and activities in such a short amount of time.
“It takes a lot of volunteers to do this,” she said.
Arts Council board member Kae Wright, whom Johnston called the “guru of the show,” also praised the community’s impressive support.
“We’re just overwhelmed with all the participation,” she said. “We just feel really good.”
Johnston noted that board membership has recently changed and members are now more eager than ever to put together future art events.
The Festival of Trees preview party is from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday. Starting Saturday, the festival’s first official day, event times are 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission for the event is $5 for adults and $2 for seniors and children ages 12 and under. Children under 6 are free.
Individuals who bring a canned good item on Sundays will receive $1 off admission. All canned goods will be donated to Christian Ministry as part of their Feed My Sheep food drive.
“Come participate in the community spirit,” Johnston said. “We hope to do it for a long time.”
For more information on the event, contact the Arts Council of Lincoln County at (704) 732-9044.

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